The 4 steps and keys to facilitating a training course or a distance workshop

We’ve been thinking for a while now about Vianeo, to digitize our trainings and our face-to-face workshops in order to reach a larger and more geographically distant audience.

“Good use of seizures”!

With almost 1 year of hindsight and 150 participants on our counter, we are happy to share our practices and give you some advice and feedback!

This experience feedback is based on the animation of our inter-company and intra-company certifying trainings, of our workshops for project leaders implemented for PhD students of the University Paris Saclay, to INRAE, for the startups of theincubator Descartes, for the SATT Connectus in particular and also the animation of the monthly webinar of the Club Vianeo.

Overall, the feedback from our participants on these training sessions is very good..

    % of positive responses

  • 100% – Quality of training
  • 92% – Skills development
  • 92% -Added value of the method and plateform Vianeo

These advices will be presented according to the logical sequence of the organization of an animation service

    1. The preparation
    2. The technical environment
    3. The animation
    4. Evaluation

1. Preparation – Instructional Design

Some of our clients have sometimes asked us if remote delivery would be cheaper than face-to-face delivery. Our answer was clear, you can just take away the travel and mission costs! The rest is at the same rate and even, we should probably charge a little more!
Indeed, the design of the session, of the remote workshop requires more time consuming preparation work than a face-to-face session. The pedagogical engineering of such a session, such a workshop requires more precision, more formalism and more rigor in the preparation phase (and animation!).
It is much more difficult to improvise than in a face-to-face session.
Basically, it is particularly important to be vigilant on the following points:

    • Plan sessions spread over time: half a day is optimum, more is impossible because participants get tired very quickly.
    • Prepare a timed agenda
    • Rythmer les sessions par des séquences courtes et variées
    • Plan activities between sessions to keep a common thread and the attention of the participants since there is no longer the unit of time that there was on 1 or 2 days in a row.

2. The technical environment

For the remote, technology is key since online communication is totally based on digital and video conferencing. This environment must not be left to chance.
Here are a few rules that will save you sweat, stress and above all, gain relevance in substance:

    • Do not use more than 3 different tools. In this case, we use Zoom, the plateform Vianeo et Klaxoon.
    • Test and practice beforehand the digital tools used and become familiar with each one.
    • Require participants to log in before the first session to avoid wasting time creating accounts or getting familiar with the tool on the day. As an example, we make them do a preparation of the Ice-breaker on Klaxoon on the eve of the session and we invite them on a project on the plateforme Vianeo upstream as well.
    • Check the robustness of your internet connection and plan a plan B (4G, other box…)
    • Practise switching smoothly from one tool to another at each sequence, without worrying about the password for example…
    • Have two screens: one to see the participants, the other to see the content of the shared documents.
    • Work in a silent environment so that you don’t have to turn off your microphone and thus don’t risk hearing the recurring song “We can’t hear you” !!!
    • Be careful with wallpapers so that they are not too distracting. We could see some of them making the participant appear and disappear all the time!

3. Facilitation of the training, meeting or workshop

Here we are at the heart of the digital session, facing a huge challenge, that of animating by engaging people in learning without ever being able to apprehend them personally and physically.
How can the facilitator create a group alchemy when we have so little access to what represents the basis of human interaction: body language, sensory contact, interpersonal skills? So many elements that are so precious to group dynamics…

Well in spite of everything, installing this group dynamic by the facilitator is possible even remotely, here are some secrets:

    • Keep smiling in all circumstances 😉 Do theater, do more than enough ! Be spontaneous !
    • Animate by involving as much participation as possible. To call by name the persons to give their opinion, their ideas. Do not let them go!
    • Establish the rules from the outset to define the framework: cameras on, schedules respected, permanent interaction…
    • Present the objectives of each session or meeting.
    • Focus on practice, practice and more practice so that everyone is as active as possible throughout the session.
    • Take very regular and even short breaks, at least one every 1.5 hours.
    • Mix the types of content, tools, exercises.
    • Schedule time in teams, in sub-groups. Zoom for this is very effective.
    • Keep the theory parts very short.
    • Empower participants to take control of the screens: brainstorm with Klaxoon or Miro, appraisal of projects in Vianeo
    • Delegate chat management to one of the participants. It is too complicated to animate and monitor its content…
    • Delegate chat management to one of the participants. It is too complicated to animate and monitor its content…
    • Involve external people from time to time. For example, we ask users of Vianeo during the sessions of certification.

4. Evaluation

And here we are at the end of a session, meeting or training. Evaluation is key, all the more so as you were not able to measure satisfaction by indirect means that we can use face-to-face.

In use, here is our experience feedback:

    • Start and end each session with a short moment of feedback using a brainstorm tool (Miro, Klaxoon, Mentimeter…).
    • Comment on the feedbacks.
    • Ask everyone to specify their appreciations and feedbacks if he/she wishes.
    • If the evaluation takes place between two sessions, do not hesitate to integrate improvements in the next session and in each sequence.

By way of conclusion:

The good surprises :

    • The introverts (there are many of them) participate more than in the classroom.
    • The introverts (they are numerous) participate more than in face-to-face meetings.
    • Sessions start more on time
    • Participants show more focus and attention
    • The ideal number of participants is under 10 people, but sessions with more than 25 people have also worked very well!
    • A good ice-breaker: speed dating between participants works very well, creating subgroups of 2 to 3 people at random
    • The plateform Vianeo and integrated method is very effective in fostering collaborative work on innovative projects !

And the least good..

Here we will share a few anecdotes that we suggest you avoid!

    • Pascaline, our training director, finds herself without an internet connection and the only plan B is to take her clicks and clicks to go to another office which is 25 km away from her current office?
    • Séverine, our founder, clicks on THE red button of Zoom “Ending the meeting for all” in the middle of a brainstorming session…
    • A speaker appears in the middle of a session but admits that he doesn’t know why he is there…
    • A participant asks to be absent for 1 hour in the middle of the session and when he comes back he is no longer in the subject and questions all the activities…
    • The upstairs neighbor decided to start the plumbing work…

What about you? What tips or tricks would you give to those conducting a remote workshop? How will you innovate in 2021 on this subject? We look forward to hearing from you!

Séverine Herlin, CEO, Vianeo

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